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'Will support Ukraine as long as it takes', Blinken says to Lavrov in brief chat sidelines of G20 meet

Blinken urged Lavrov to reverse its decision on New START treaty

US State secretary Blinken and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) walk to attend second session of the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi | AP

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met briefly on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers' meeting at New Delhi on Thursday, believed to be first since Russia's attack on Ukraine. Blinken reportedly asserted to Lavrov that Washington was ready to support Ukraine “as long as it takes.” 

The leaders briefly met in Delhi in the first high-level contact between the two countries in months amid the Ukraine conflict. It is understood that the exchange lasted about 10 minutes and that Blinken conveyed to Lavrov that the US would continue to support Ukraine.

“Blinken and Lavrov had a very brief interaction on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting,” a Russian official said.

"Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked for contact with Foreign Minister Lavrov, during the second session of the G20 meet," Russian spokesperson Maria Zakharova said. She said they had the "contact but there were no talks or a full-fledged meeting."

This comes over a week after Russia suspended participation in the New START nuclear treaty with the US.

“We must continue to call on Russia to end its war of aggression and withdraw from Ukraine for the sake of international peace and economic stability,” Blinken said in his remarks at the G20 meet.

“Unfortunately, this meeting has again been marred by Russia's unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine,” he said. The US and its Western allies are ramping up pressure on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 

Blinken reportedly called on Russia to reverse the decision to suspend its participation in the New START treaty, TASS news agency reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 1 signed the law to suspend Russia’s participation in the START treaty owing to West's sanctions on Russia in the wake of its 'special operation' on Ukraine. 

A US official on conditions of anonymity said Blinken wanted to "disabuse the Russians of any notion that our support (for Ukraine) might be wavering or the support from our allies and partners might be wavering." Blinken also told Lavrov that Washington was prepared to support Ukraine to defend itself for as long as it takes, Reuters reported.

(WIth PTI inputs.)

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